Most Haverhill Students to Continue Learning Remotely as Quarantine Numbers Climb

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

With COVID-19 continuing to spread, the Haverhill School Committee approved a compromise plan where preschoolers and high needs students will attend in person, while all other students will continue to attend remotely.

Since the Thanksgiving holiday, all classes have been conducted remotely, with the exception of students in the high needs’ Cohort C who have been attending in person four days per week. The schedule had called for all students to return to the full hybrid model beginning next Monday.

Driving the decision were the latest coronavirus statistics reported by School Superintendent Margaret Marotta.

“The numbers, as of today, is that we have 23 positive staff members and we have 40 staff members that are in quarantine currently. In addition to that, we have 82 positive students and 131 students in quarantine,” she said.

In addition, Marotta said about a third of the school’s transportation department is in quarantine making it difficult to get students to the school.

She presented the Committee with four options for moving ahead, ranging from a full hybrid model for all to a fully remote program. Committee member Toni Sapienza-Donais has advocated for the latter plan for some time.

“There are teachers and parents that are petrified of what is happening in the schools. The numbers that are increasing. I have never received more phone calls, text messages and emails from parents and teachers. I really feel that until after the Christmas holiday is over, we really need to keep it remote and readjust then and see if we can get back to the hybrid,” she said.

Cohort C students in grades K-8 will attend in person Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The schedule remains in effect until Jan. 19, unless the Committee decides differently at its next meeting scheduled Jan. 14.

In a related matter, the Committee gave its okay to a request by Mayor James J. Fiorentini to allow the St. James School auditorium to be used for COVID-19 testing for two days over the holiday vacation.

The mayor said he actually has another site in mind and St. James would be a back-up site if the other does not pan out.

He said the plan is for testing to take place on Wednesday, Dec. 23 and Saturday, Jan. 2.

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